Expert Advice: 5 Things to Check When Buying Furniture

These must-dos involve thorough inspection

Photography: Miguel Nacianceno (Main Photo)

Shopping for furniture and accessories doesn't just involve looking for what's pretty and sturdy. You should also take into consideration the materials and how each is crafted. When you go shopping, make sure you come prepared with your list, swatches, pictures, and the ever reliable tape measure. Get ready to check these important factors:

How the Furniture Looks Upside Down

Turn the piece around and examine it carefully. Check if the underside is finished. Quality furniture will have neatly tucked fabric which is also double-stitched (not stapled), whereas wood must be painted and not left raw. 

Photo by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions.

Framing and Supports

Ask about the framing of the furniture. Remember that kiln-dried hardwood (has less moisture and is less prone to decay) is best. Try carrying the sofa from one of it’s corners—it should have weight to it if it's of quality.

For beds, you would want to check what the slats and vertical supports are made of. If the supports are of substandard material, chances are your bed won’t last long. Slats should be three inches apart to help with mattress wear. They should be screwed or doweled together for stability.

Photo by At Maculangan.


Do a scratch and pull test for the fabric. The fibers should not come off in doing so. You also need to check if the material feels good against your skin.

Photo by Marc Jao.

Foam used should be firm as softer paddings will sag faster in time. Ask if there are springs installed inside. These will help distribute your weight evenly as you use the sofa, which will make it last longer.

Photo by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions.


For most wood furniture, hardwood is preferred. If cabinet material has to be replaced to lessen costs, choose plywood over particle or fiberboards.

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno.


Double check measurements if they will fit your space. As much as possible, triple check it with the list that you have.

Don’t rush into buying everything at once—not because they are on sale, and not just to complete your space as soon as possible. Go window shopping the first day and purchase your items in the coming days. You might also want to visit some thrift shops, purchase a piece, and have it restored. Mix the new with some old to add character. Furnishing your home will take time, so make sure that you buy pieces that you absolutely love.

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]



Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

More on

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